The Kahn Academy has partnered with the College Board to offer free SAT prep to students. While this is great, it’s actually nothing new. The College Board has always offered prep materials for the SAT – both a book and an online course – with “strategies” for the exam. But ask any high-scoring SAT student you know if they used the strategies from the College Board to score well on the test and they will emphatically tell you no. The strategies the College Board provides you with are the traditional way to solve problems – not how to game the test.
Although I praise the College Board for providing the highest quality SAT questions for students to practice with, I also believe that they put out some of the lowest quality SAT strategies for students to prep with. Whenever the test creator offers to prep students, you should be wary of the quality of the prep. The College Board has an agenda to defend that the SAT is an appropriate measure of what students learn in high school. Therefore, the prep that the College Board provides is going to align with that mission. Essentially, the College Board “SAT prep” strategies are going to teach you how to approach problems using methods you already use in high school. While this may sound like a good idea, these highs school approaches are often not the most effective way to solve SAT problems.
There are many tips and tricks you can use to game the SAT to solve problems more accurately and efficiently.
However, the College Board would never teach you a strategy to “game” the SAT.
For example, do you think the College Board would teach you how to use a standard SAT essay template that is the essentially the same every time so that you will ace any topic they throw at you? Or would the College Board teach you how to solve an algebra problem without using algebra? Or would the College Board teach you how to avoid reading entire SAT reading passages at once? Probably not. The College Board is all about teaching students the actual content of the SAT, but not big on teaching strategies to take advantage of the test. What company would want to give away strategies that help you beat its own test?
Therefore, my advice is to prep for the SAT using practice questions produced by the College Board, but do not prep for the SAT using strategies produced by the College Board (or Kahn Academy). You have to use strategies that help you game the test through tips and tricks that the test creator is not going to show you. I am 100% confident that if I had used the strategies that the College Board had offered to prepare for the SAT, I would not have been able to improve 640 points to get a perfect SAT score. In summation, use College Board questions, not strategies.